Necessity is the mother of invention, right? For my own sanity, I have developed many ingenious and as yet undetected methods of getting my children to bend to my will. I refer to these in my head as “Jedi Mom Tricks.” Here is one of my favorites.
Some days when I'm home for a long stretch with my two little boys and there seems to be no break in sight – the weather is bad, one of us is sick, or I'm busy with some project that keeps us inside – I long for them to be the kind of kids who while away the hours in imaginative play. Or artsy kids who like to create things on their own. Or girls. I know a lot more about how to amuse girls, being one myself.
Video games and TV can only occupy the children quietly for so long. But suggesting they “Go draw something,” or “Play with your toys” always gets met with a whine and a full-body mope.
So I don't do that anymore. Instead, I employ what I like to call Jedi Mom Trick #42: I do it myself. They see me doing the thing, and they suddenly want to do it too.
For example, on one chilly rainy day I needed the boys to sit still for a little while. I just had to get a break from the arguing, wrestling, and continuous destruction that happens when they are stuck indoors.
While they were focused on screaming at each other for some perceived slight, I pulled all of their activity books, construction paper, printed coloring sheets, markers and crayons out of the storage bin in the playroom and spread them out neatly on the kitchen table the way I’ve seen their teachers and daycare supervisors do in the past.
“Why don’t you color for a little while, you guys?” I called. “Nah,” they dismissed me in unison and turned back to pummeling each other in the guts.
“Fine, I’ll just do it myself,” I said, and sat down at the table, opened a book to a lovely Spiderman drawing, and started coloring.
After a few minutes one of the kids wandered over to the table and said “What are you doing, Mom?”
“I’m coloring,” I answered without even looking up from the page. I didn't mind coloring so much. It was sort of meditative. I didn't even make myself stay inside the lines.
“I wanna do it!” said my child, and he grabbed a Spongebob coloring sheet and some markers, and went to work. Haha! I thought. I'm Obi-Mom Kenobi. These are the crayons you're looking for.
Soon the other child wanted to join us, so he launched into a coloring project himself. Once everything was quiet, I slunk away to the other room to fold some laundry. The kids didn't even realize I was gone. The calm coloring session lasted 20 whole minutes.
Excellent, I congratulated myself. Only nine more hours to fill until bedtime.